War of the Rebellion: Serial 126 Page 0558 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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DECENTRALIZATION OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS.

Up to the close of 1864 all descriptive lists and accounts of pay and clothing of transferred men had been demanded of former company commandants from this Bureau, and had been transmitted by it to the commandants of the companies to which the several men were assigned.

Bearing in mind that over 50,000 men have passed from the active Army into the Veteran Reserve Corps, it is easy to perceive what an immense amount of labor was thus centralized. The system was in accordance with the business customs of armies, but it resulted in an accumulation of clerical work which could be dispersed with advantage. In a circular letter, dated January 2, 1865, Provost-Marshal-General's Office, it was enjoined that thereafter officers of the Veteran Reserve Corps should apply directly to the former company commanders of transferred men for their descriptive lists, supporting each request with a copy of the order of transfer. The diminution in one month of the personal force of the branch from seven commissioned officers and forty-eight clerks to two officers and thirty-one clerks is almost entirely attributable to this change. The office had been crowded in two buildings; it now found sufficient room in one. At least $ 20,000 have been saved to the Government during the year by this measure. Exteriorly it has worked well. Nearly all the company commandants have been energetic in demanding the descriptive lists of their transferred men, and in case of failure to complete their descriptive rolls they have been promptly reminded of their remissness by the Bureau.

A subsequent circular letter, dated February 10, 1865, Provost- Marshal-General's Office, directed that in case any soldier of the corps died, deserted, or was discharged his company commander should forward a notification of the fact to the adjutant-general of the State from which he originally enlisted.

This labor also had been hitherto performed in the Bureau and had formed no inconsiderable portion of its clerical duty. The object of the measure was of course not only to complete the man's history at the military headquarters of the State, but to check fraudulent or erroneous claims for local bounty, family aid, & c.

In the same economical connection should be mentioned the discontinuance of the invalid-roll system (General Orders, Numbers 76, Adjutant-General's Office, 1865) and the transfer of disabled men to the corps on the simple recommendation of examining boards. The invalid roll was made out by an officer commanding troops or by a surgeon in charge of a general hospital. It gave the soldier's military history, clothing and pay accounts, moral character, and nature of disability; it needed the indorsements of brigade, division, and corps commanders. Amid the pressure of field operations and the multitude of wounded and sick in the hospitals, it was a document slow in preparation and in transit, and in many instances a long time elapsed between the injury to the man and such official completion of his case as placed him in the ranks of the Veteran Reserve Corps.

Under the new system the examining boards visited the general hospitals once in two months, inspected all patients who were specified as permanently disabled by the surgeon in charge, and made out lists of recommendations for the First or Second Battalion, according to the severity of the injuries. The descriptive lists and clothing and pay accounts were demanded subsequently by the commandants